Long story, but my son almost missed his chance to play against Kamiak’s rival Mariner in JV soccer earlier today. Again.
Last year around this time, he injured out after only playing three games, two preseason and the first regulation match (against Cascade). The night before, he felt his left MCL tear with 30 minutes left to practice. We spent several hours waiting to see a walk-in clinic doctor.
We would miss out on a small window of opportunity for him to rejoin his JV team, to at least finish the season, because of a miscommunication with the coaching staff and a hapless orthopedic PA.
He took it real badly. I vowed never again if I could help it.
Last Friday, after the second preseason game, he felt his right knee go stiff. As a precaution, I scheduled the next available with his doctor two days ago, where he received the all-clear — so long as the coach spreads the wealth around on the free kicks and James takes it easy in between games and at practices. Lots of RICE.
I tried to treat the Kamiak vs. Mariner rivalry earlier tonight like any other soccer match. I took photos of all the players in action. Worried when Mariner scored the first goal, outpacing James’ JV Kamiak Knights by leaps and bounds.
I wasn’t sure Kamiak’s JV team had the speed and the aggression to come back this time, like it did against Cascade Tuesday. But then, I noticed a few of the Mariner players struggling to keep possession, one or two near-misses and outright weak passing. A small window opened up, if Kamiak could capitalize on it.
Just as I began to relax and enjoy watching a good soccer match, regardless, I saw midfielder Edgar cross a bullet pass over toward forward Jungmin, who’d been struggling to attack the ball. Without thinking, acting purely on reflex, Jungmin jumped in a kind of half-bicycle kick, and let one of his legs snap a redirect past the Mariner keeper.
Nothing but net.
You should’ve seen the expression of pure shock and delight on Edgar’s face.
Everyone lost their minds. Kamiak had a shot.
With their lead gone in a flash, some of the Mariner players began to panic. As soon as Yannick, one of Kamiak’s fastest forwards powered past on a lucky breakaway, a Mariner defender showed his desperation by committing a blatant foul in the box, drawing a PK.
Moises won the PK easily, giving Kamiak a 2-1 lead, with way too much time left in the second half to let that stand.
Kamiak found its hustle and groove, jumping on the momentum of the two goals, dominating the pitch, working out plays, pressing ever forward, forcing Mariner to make mistakes, jump the gun, foul even more.
Then, in what would be the winning goal, my center back son sent a rocket launcher toward forward Grayson, who took advantage of the momentary shock and launched a winning third goal into the net.
Absolute bedlam. The Kamiak Knights piled on Grayson, like MLB players in the World Series — relief and shock and euphoria all over their faces. I watched them jumping, hugging, and nearly tripping over themselves in celebration. I’ve never seen the returning forward look so satisfied.
Around the seven-minute mark, Mariner caught a lucky fluke of a breakaway — the kind that ends matches and cements underdogs. This is a team known for its lightning speed and laser-like finish. My son wound up caught in the crossfire, in the wrong position to fully use his body to deflect or tackle.
He was forced to draw a handball in order to stop the Mariner momentum, knowing he had two goals to play with.
Mariner would score off that short free kick, now behind by only one goal at 3-2, with a little over two minutes left in the match.
It would be up to the Kamiak defense to hang on, which it did. Everyone, from the starters to the reserves, stepped up, playing with a fire they never showed before.
The keeper, a junior by the name of Leif Johanson, would keep Mariner from scoring at least two more direct shots on goal — popping one heartstopper over the net, and letting the rest of his team do the rest on a corner.
Final score: 3-2, Kamiak Knights.
Last year, the Mariner JV team laid waste to Kamiak, as my son watched helplessly from the sidelines — on crutches.
This year, this year would be different, as he helped his Kamiak Knights JV team beat the rival Mariner Marauders.
The Kamiak Varsity team would take to the field next, beating Mariner 3-0 in a very heated match that resulted in two red cards and two-three fist fights.
Deep inside, I felt enormous relief and pride watching my son walk off the field with his team after the game was called by the ref. He gave it his all and played the way he imagined he would when he could do nothing but cheer his teammates on.
Even better, the crazy weather held up.
I only stayed for the first 15 minutes of the Varsity game, because it was too cold. As I left, I happened to look up, locking eyes with a sad little woman in the crowd, doing her best to glare past me.
It was my former best friend, the one who said she had my back, that we were twins, that she “loved me to pieces,” the same one who fucked me over in December.
I briefly thought about smiling and saying hello to her, bygones and all. But she looked so pissed and hateful and scared shitless that I let my eyes gloss over her to another mom who innocently smiled a greeting at me.
I almost laughed.